1) Palestinian prisoners protest
The New York Times reported Palestinians Jailed in Israel Protest After Inmate Dies:
The office of Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, said in a statement that it held the Israeli government “fully responsible” for Mr. Hamdiya’s death, which it said stemmed from a policy of “deliberate medical negligence.”
Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the authority, also accused the Israeli prison authorities of a “policy of medical negligence,” saying in a statement that the delay in treating Mr. Hamdiya “was a primary reason for his martyrdom.” He called for international monitoring of the conditions inside Israel’s prisons.
Prisoners in Israeli custody hold an honored place in Palestinian society, with many Palestinians regarding even compatriots convicted of deadly terrorist acts as political prisoners and fighters for the Palestinian cause.
The New York Times earlier referred to the death of Arafat Jaradat earlier this year as occurring under “disputed circumstances.” Is there any evidence that the Palestinian claims then were true? “Disputed” suggests that each side’s arguments were equally valid. That’s simply not true and example of deceitful reporting.
Similarly, the Washington Post reported Death of Palestinian prisoner in Israeli custody sparks protests:
Abu Hamdiya’s death drew sharp responses from Palestinian leaders, who have sought to highlight the Palestinian prisoner issue after a recent wave of street protests in the West Bank in support of hunger-striking inmates and in response to the death of another prisoner under interrogation.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned what he called the “arrogance” of Israeli authorities, who he said had rejected attempts by Palestinian officials to secure Abu Hamdiya’s early release for medical treatment.
The Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, denounced “the continued policy of medical negligence of Israeli prison authorities” and called for international monitoring of Israeli jails.
In both instances the newspapers give credibility to the dubious Palestinian claims. I inadvertently found an item from the time of Gilad Shalit’s release from Ynet:
Communication with the world: Gilad only sent one videotape, one audiotape, and three letters (largely dictated by his captors.) Meanwhile, Palestinian prisoners are entitled to meet lawyers and Red Cross representatives and can mail up to four letters each month.
Medical treatment: Gilad, who requires eyeglasses, arrived in Israel following his captivity without his glasses. Some experts said his vision may have been hampered had he been without glasses for years. Shalit’s father, Noam, added that his son is suffering from shrapnel wounds that were not treated by Hamas. Meanwhile, Palestinian inmates are entitled to regular medical treatments, including dental work and eye exams.
Had the Red Cross visited Hamdiyeh? If they did, had they noticed anything wrong? Did American reporters make any effort to assess the validity of the Palestinian claims?
Yarden Frankl framed the story in Medical Care for terrorists:
Despite being caught trying to murder dozens of Israeli cafe-goers, Hamdiya (like thousands of other Palestinians) was receiving care at an Israeli hospital. Most people don’t know about how many Palestinian civilians are being treated at Israeli hospitals (much of which is paid for by Israeli taxpayers.) Every day, Israel facilitates the passage of men, women, and children from Gaza who are treated at the superior medical facilities in Israel. One could make the case that this is extremely generous of Israel.
But this is a case of an actual terrorist who tried to murder Israelis and had been receiving Israeli medical care. The charge trumpeted in the headlines was that the care for this man who suffered from a terminal disease wasn’t good enough.
Khaled Abu Toameh calls PA grandstanding on prisoners self-defeating:
The strong attacks on Israel are primarily aimed at showing the Palestinian public that the PA leadership does care about the prisoners.
But these attacks are also intensifying tensions between Israel and the Palestinians and paving the way for violence.
By making serious allegations against Israel, the PA is further radicalizing Palestinians and even driving some of them into the open arms of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Similarly Amos Harel wrote in Ha’aretz:
The Palestinian Authority knows full well that the prisoner Maysara Abu Hamdiya, who died of cancer on Tuesday, did not become ill because of Israel. Yet PA President Mahmoud Abbas publicly accused Israel of playing a part in his death. The PA leadership sees a need to maintain the popular struggle in the West Bank, and there has been a continuous increase in the number of “populist” incidents (the throwing of rocks and petrol bombs, demonstrations) over the last six months.
The claims of the Palestinian Authority are cynical and damaging and yet the American news outlets treated them with a credulousness they do not deserve.
The New York Times article is worse because of the paragraph about the meaning of prisoners in Palestinian society. If the reporter is going to add pathos to her reporting of a jailed terrorist, she has an obligation to give the full meaning of the issue of prisoners.
In the Oslo Accords prisoner releases were mentioned as “confidence building gestures.” That made some sense. If Israel no longer considered Fatah a terrorist organization, people who had been arrested for belonging to Fatah should have been released. Political activists, if that’s all they were should have been released, but not terrorists. And certainly not terrorists with blood on their hands.
But prisoner releases have morphed into something else entirely. People who committed terrorist acts since Oslo show that they rejected the peace accords. If they are considered political prisoners by Palestinian society, Palestinian society, by valuing them so highly, shows that it rejects peace with Israel. The same is true of the Palestinian leadership that cynically manipulates the issue for its own ends. The media is enabling this by portraying this pathology as some sort of admirable cultural value.
Or consider the case of Ahmed Jbarra, the “refrigerator bomber.” True he committed terror well before Oslo. But he was immediately made a “special adviser” to Yasser Arafat. This wasn’t because he was political prisoner. It was because he was an unrepentant murderer.
2) The incurious administration
In his review of the first term of Barak Obama’s presidency, Barry Rubin observed:
The final point is that there are good people around him, the huge force of advisers who—hopefully or presumably, you choose the word—will warn him that his thinking is very out of touch with the world. They, if not he, will be capable of evaluating the administration’s experience and urging a course correction. [The choice of John Kerry as secretary of state; John Brennan as head of the CIA; and Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense has removed any possibility of Obama having good advisers–BR]
Max Boot in his lament How America lost its four great generals (David Petraeus, Stanley McChrystal, John Allen, and James Mattis) notes that in three cases, cites conflict with the administration as playing a role in the general’s departure.
True, in the United States we have civilian control of the military, so the President’s word is the final authority and military leaders serve at his pleasure. But its hard to avoid the feeling that President Obama doesn’t much care for dissent, not even constructive criticism. The media loved to portray President Bush as “incurious,” someone unwilling to challenge his deeply held beliefs. If they applied any level of scrutiny to President Obama, they would see that failing as his defining quality.